Rear Tines, Front Tines, & Cultivators… Oh My!

What’s the difference between a rear tine tiller and a front tine tiller? What’s the difference between a tiller and a cultivator? Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they mean entirely different things.

A tiller is designed to actually break into and loosen soil. They’re used to create new gardens from hard soil. A tiller can also cultivate, but generally isn’t as maneuverable as a cultivator. If you’ve decided to create a brand new garden, a tiller is the right tool to use in cutting up your lawn and turning it into fresh, loose dirt.


  • Rear-tine tillers have the tines in the back, which makes it easier to use the weight of the machine to your advantage in breaking up hard soil. Rear-tine tillers tend to be larger and more expensive than other styles, and therefor are also less maneuverable. They are ideal for breaking up a lawn and creating lots of loose soil over large areas.

Front Tine

  • Front-tine tillers have the tines in the front, which makes for easier maneuverability but slightly less powerful than rear-tine tillers. Front-tine tillers are great for creating smaller gardens and cultivating larger gardens year after year. They are more maneuverable than rear-tine tillers because the wheels are in the back and allow for easier turning and reversing.


  • Cultivators are not designed for creating new gardens. Cultivators are designed for turning over loose to medium soil in old, already created gardens. Most people buy cultivators for blending additives and compost into their old garden soil or for controlling weed growth. These are handy tools to have around once your garden is created, as hoeing and weaseling your garden by hand each year can take a toll on you. In addition, these tools do a great job of more thoroughly blending the soil.
%d bloggers like this: